1617 E. Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia , PA 19148
Neighborhood: South Philadelphia
Parking: Neighborhood-sponsored valet parking Friday and Saturday $8 (kiosks at Passyunk and Tasker and Morris.)
Handicap access: Not wheelchair accessible. (There is a portable ramp, however bathroom is not accessible.)
Related reviews: Laurel: A 'Top Chef' champ returns to his roots
Cuisine type: New American
Meals Served: Dinner
Style: After high-profile stints at Le Bec-Fin and Rittenhouse Tavern and a celebrity run to a win in Season 11 of Top Chef, Nicholas Elmi does the unexpected and dives into a tiny space for his owner-chef debut with a 22-seat BYOB where he can touch every plate. And his elegant New American cooking is more inspired than ever. With fewer seats than its predecessor (Fond), Laurel proves BYOs can be comfortable, further confirms East Passyunk as Philly's most exciting dining district, and surely lays the groundwork for Elmi's star to grow well into the future.
Specialties: Torn scallop; albacore with Asian pear, horseradish snow and yogurt; foie gras and cocoa terrine; charred Spanish mackerel with mustard seeds and ponzu; ricotta gnocchi with pancetta; Berkshire pork with crushed chestnuts; chicken with Meyer lemon; ocean trout with turnips; caramelized white chocolate pudding; cheese.
Alcohol: BYOB. Laurel's cuisine is subtle and light-handed, so bring flexible, midweight wines that won't overpower. For whites, a Spatlese Trocken Riesling from Ratzenberger was a perfect pairing with the seafood. For reds, think pinot.
Weekend noise: With fewer seats now, the space is much quieter than when it was Fond. But it can still hit a noisy low-90s at its height. (Ideal is 70 decibels or less.)
Hours: Dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m.